£2.5bn London IPO for Russian phone network

RUSSIAN mobile phone network MegaFon is set to launch the largest London IPO of the last year, raising up to $4bn (£2.5bn).

Investors yesterday announced that they had reached an agreement to float 20 per cent of the firm “as soon as practically possible”, according to Scandinavian telecoms firm and shareholder Teliasonera.

It is understood that the IPO will value the company at around $20bn.

“I’m extremely pleased with this deal,” Teliasonera chief executive Lars Nyberg said. “It resolves a long-term issue – that we’ve never seen a dime from MegaFon.”

The decision to go public on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is part of an understanding between the firm’s three owners that will see oligarch Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s richest man, increase his holding in the company to 50 per cent plus one share.

MegaFon is a cash-rich company but has never paid a dividend, a point that has caused tension between investors.

Under yesterday’s agreement Mikhail Fridman’s Altimo Holdings will sell its 25.1 per cent stake in MegaFon for $5.2bn, with 10.7 percent going to Usmanov and the rest back to the company.

Teliasonera will sell 8.2 per cent of its 43.8 per cent stake to Usmanov for $1.45bn, and plans to reduce its holding even further as part of the IPO process. There will also be a $5.15bn dividend, paid to all shareholders.

Teliasonera agreed to pay $200m to Altimo to complete the deal.